Tag: Exploring Brooklyn

Prospect Park Zoo                450 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11225

Prospect Park Zoo 450 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11225

The Prospect Park Zoo

450 Flatbush Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11225

(718) 220-5100

https://prospectparkzoo.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d283820-Reviews-Prospect_Park_Zoo-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

The Prospect Park Zoo is one of my ‘go to’ places along with the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when visiting Brooklyn. The three popular destinations are all in the same neighborhood and if you have a full day is worth the subway ride from Manhattan to visit.

The entrance to the Prospect Park Zoo

On a nice day, the best place to start is the Brooklyn Botanical Garden at opening, then head over through the back part of the garden to Prospect Park and walk to the entrance near Flatbush Avenue and go past the carousel and enter the Zoo past the old Leffert’s Homestead. The Zoo is just past that.

The Leffert’s Homestead in Prospect Park

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d103505-Reviews-Lefferts_Homestead-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review of the Leffert’s Homestead on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/2864

The best part of the Prospect Park Zoo is that like the Central Park Zoo it is small enough to see in one day and be able to enjoy the exhibitions in one afternoon and still have time for lunch.

The Map of the Zoo

The main focus of the zoo when you walk through the gates is the seal tanks. These playful animals spend most of their time swimming around or sunning themselves on a warm day. During the feeding schedule, it is interesting to see how they interact with the trainers.

The Seal exhibition

Walking further into the zoo you will walk past the Hall of Animals, where all the smaller animals and amphibians like frogs, snakes and turtles are located. These are a lot of fun for the smaller children who may not see these things in their backyards or even in the parks anymore.

Beyond that is the Barn, where your horses and cows are located and they even have a pair of turkeys, which makes for interesting conversation for children who wonder where they come from at Thanksgiving. The turkeys here are more bred than the wild ones you will see in the woods.

The turkey!

Next to the Hall of Animals is the Animal Lifestyle exhibition where a lot of the gorillas and monkeys are located. It is funny to watch their mannerisms and see ourselves and out behaviors in them. I guess a couple of thousand years never really separated us that much and we still are a lot alike.

From there you will take the Discovery Trail to see more familiar animals that you might see in every day nature such as deer, foxes, porcupines, ducks and geese in a more natural habitat where they can roam free. The space is limited but they look a lot happy to move around than some of the other animals.

All trails lead back to the Seal Tanks where the popular feeding time gathers a crowd and you will see the care that many of the trainers and zoo keepers give to their residents. There is a lot of love for these animals that is given and I can see a lot of respect.

The seals here have a personality

A trip to the snack shop and gift shops at the zoo are expensive and cater to the tourists. They are not as nicely merchandised as the Bronx Zoo or the Central Park Zoo. Still they are fun to visit once or twice.

The Prospect Park Zoo is still a nice afternoon out for families and a nice way to communicate with nature.

The History of the Prospect Park Zoo:

The Prospect Park Zoo is a 12 acre zoo located in Prospect Park, Brooklyn and as of 2016 houses 864 animals. The zoo was originally part of the plan of Prospect Park as a “Zoological Garden” in the western part of the park. The zoo was not part of the finished plan in the park in 1874 by designers Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.

The original zoo layout

The park design included a Wild Fowl Pond in the northern part of the park that was stop off for water birds and a Deer Paddock in the southern part of the zoo where deer lived in a penned area.

In the 1890’s, gardens were created for park enjoyment and a informal Menagerie was created by the Brooklyn Parks Commission, George V. Brower, when the donation of small bear, white deer, seven seals, a cow and twelve peacocks came into the possession of the park.

In 1934, Parks Department head Robert Moses set a plan to reconstruct the City’s Parks and under the Works Progress Administration started to revamp the park system. In March of that year architect Aymar Embury II set to design the new zoo with six new buildings and centered by a Seal Pool.

By the 1970’s, the zoo faced disrepair and was neglect for the animals. It was considered one of the worst zoo’s in the country according to the press and finally in 1980, the Koch Administration signed a 50 year agreement with the NY Zoological Society, now called the Wildlife Conservation Society, which was also administrating the Central Park and Queens Zoo.

The new Prospect Park Wildlife Conservation Center

The park closed in 1988 for a five year, 37 million dollar renovation that gutted all the pits and cages but saved the historic buildings and statuary. The new zoo opened in 1993 with a new name, “The Prospect Park Wildlife Conservation Center” and a philosophy of educating children. The zoo along with the Queens Zoo have had some shortfalls in the past but have the full support of the Society and the public since the early 2000’s. Still the zoo remains popular with families from all over Brooklyn and the world.

(This information is provided by Wiki and the Wildlife Conservatory website and I give them both full credit for the information)

New York Aquarium  602 Surf Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11224

New York Aquarium 602 Surf Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11224

New York Aquarium

602 Surf Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11224

(718) 265-3474

http://www.nyaquarium.com

https://nyaquarium.com/

Open: Sunday & Saturday 10:00am-5:30pm/Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm

Fee: Adults $25.00/Children $20.00/Seniors $27.00 (see their website for more details on pricing and times)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d107414-Reviews-New_York_Aquarium-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

I have been to the NY Aquarium many times since it reopened after Hurricane Sandy and there have been many positive improvements in both the facility and the service. The new Ocean Wonders: Shark! exhibition which has opened up giving an interesting look at the underwater world of the many different types of sharks that dominate the deep.

It is not just a display but also a commentary on the conditions of the deep and the treatment of sharks around the world. There contributions as bottom dwellers cleans our oceans and benefits other fish. It was shocking what the treatment is of these animals in Asia when strip these animals of their fins for soup. I like how professionally the aquarium shows this in their displays and videos and doesn’t preach but offer solutions to the problem.

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The new shark tanks

That and walking through the tanks themselves in the darkened rooms with music makes for a fascinating and almost ominous trip into the ocean behind the walls with the sharks and other mammals and fish swim past you. There is also a small tunnel that you can climb under to watch the fish swim on top of you and past you.

In the Conservation Hall, you will learn all about the fish that dominate and keep our reefs vibrant and what happens when pollution takes over and kills them. Again the aquarium displays this in a positive way, shows how the animals keep the reefs healthy. I point out that there are a lot of colorful fish on display and it is fun to watch the small children yell out to them.

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The underwater tunnels is amazing!

There is a wonderful seal show during the day that you should not miss especially in the warmer months when you can sit in the stands and watch them perform with their trainers. They are more Native New Yorkers than most humans having been born at the aquarium and showing their own pride in their home and abilities.

New York Aquarium

This is one of the best stops on the Coney Island Boardwalk

As part of the new building there are also several new eating establishments at the aquarium including the new Oceanside Grill that I have not visited yet (it was closed on my last visit) as well as The New York Bite food truck (which was also not opened). The most impressive restaurant is the Oceanview Bites on the second floor of the Ocean Wonders building. This beautiful new restaurant has an interesting but somewhat routine menu with prices usual to an aquarium but offer the most spectacular views of the ocean and of Coney Island. Do not miss just walking up to the restaurant in the circular pathway for the views alone.

The NY Aquarium is a treat in of itself and a great excuse to visit Coney Island. Don’t miss the rest of the island’s amusements and museums while you are there.

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The NY Aquarium

 

History of the New York Aquarium:

(this information is provided by a combination of the NY Aquarium and Wiki and I give them full credit for the information)

The New York Aquarium is the oldest continually operating aquarium in the United States, having opened in Castle Garden in Battery Park in Manhattan in 1896. Since 1957, it has been located on the Reigelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island. The aquarium is operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) as part of its integrated system of four zoos and one aquarium, most notably the Bronx Zoo. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

As part of the WCS, the aquarium’s mission is to save wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education and inspiring people to value nature.

The facility occupies 14 acres and boasts 266 species of aquatic wildlife. Its mission is to raise public awareness about issues facing the ocean and its inhabitants with special exhibitions, public events and research. The New York Seascape program, based out of the aquarium, is WCS’s local conservation program designed to restore healthy populations of marine species and protect New York waters, which are vital to the area’s economic and cultural vitality.

On June 6, 1957, the Aquarium opened at its new location in Coney Island. The new site of the New York Aquarium is the home of the WCS New York Seascape program, the society’s research and conservation program focusing on nearby rivers, harbor and ocean from Cape May, NJ to Montauk, Long Island.

The aquarium kept an orca briefly in 1968 and a narwhal in 1969. Both reportedly died of possible pneumonia. The aquarium’s beluga whales were transferred to the Georgia Aquarium in 2007 as part of a breeding program. In September 2011, the aquarium named its new electric eel Wattson and in March 2012, it launched a sea horse breeding program.

In October 2006, the New York Aquarium announced the finalists to a competition to develop a more inviting and visually prominent exterior for the aquarium. In March 2007, the winning design by firms WRT and Cloud 9 was selected, which featured an enclosure resembling a whale over the aquarium. However, in March 2008 that concept was scrapped due to concerns over the a new exhibit based on sharks was announced. The massive 784,000 US gallon exhibition, Ocean Wonders: Sharks! was originally scheduled to break ground in November 2012 and open in 2015. However, the New York Aquarium was significantly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, which severely flooded the facility and shut down power. A small group of WCS staff who remained onsite during the hurricane were able to save 90% of the animals in the collection. As a result, the exhibition opened June 30, 2018, becoming the first major exhibition at the New York Aquarium to open after Hurricane Sandy.

Disclaimer: this history of the NY Aquarium is taken from Wiki and I give them full credit for this information.

 

Lefferts Historic House                               452 Flatbush Avenue  Brooklyn, NY 11225

Lefferts Historic House 452 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11225

Lefferts Historic House

452 Flatbush Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

https://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk?sa=L&ai=DChcSEwiJxpfd-rziAhWUhdUKHRvGDtYYABAAGgJ3cw&ei=cX_sXMW4KK_ikgWu55GIBA&ohost=www.google.com&cid=CAASE-Rois_nEnRefUn86SeBr4y9Cgg&sig=AOD64_0Hi3Jo3vJIL0spSD97UBVOtelb8A&q=&sqi=2&ved=2ahUKEwiFtZDd-rziAhUvsaQKHa5zBEEQ0Qx6BAgXEAE&adurl=

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm/Monday-Wednesday Closed/Thursday-Saturday 12:00pm-5:00pm

Admission: Suggested $3.00 fee towards the renovation of the house

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d103505-Reviews-Lefferts_Homestead-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

I have visited the Lefferts Historic House a few times when visiting the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, The Brooklyn Museum and the Prospect Park Zoo, all of which are in the same cultural district of the neighborhood. The house is located near the entrance of Prospect Park just behind the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and right next to the zoo and the carousel.

The house sits on a plot of the park to give it the look of the house when it sat in a rural setting in Brooklyn about twelve blocks away. When walking into the house, there are a few rooms that are furnished and have period pieces in them to show what the house must have looked like in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Most of the house is used for touring and for groups doing projects and games. You can’t go upstairs anymore. The house will be going through a renovation soon so watch the website for more information on that.

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The historic objects of the house

The outside of the house has wooded grounds with a working garden, an outside oven and historic objects that bring the period back to tourists and residents alike of what life must have been like when it was a working farm. When in season, you can walk amongst the vegetable and flower gardens and talk to the docents about the history of the house.

The house is part of the Historic House Trust and part of the Prospect Park Alliance.

History of the Lefferts Historic House:

The Lefferts family was one of the original settlers in Brooklyn with Lefferts Pieterson buying 58 acres of land here in 1687 and built the original homestead on that property. In 1776, the house was destroyed by American troops before the Battle of Brooklyn so that the British could not use it. The house was rebuilt in 1783 by one of his descendants (Prospect Park Alliance).

Lefferts Historic House III

The Lefferts Family

The current house was the home of Continental Army Lieutenant Pieter Lefferts and was built in 1783. It was originally located on Flatbush Avenue near Maple Street. When Pieter died the house was passed onto his son, John and then when John passed, the house was inherited by his daughter, Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt. The house was lived in by four generations of the Lefferts family.

With impending development of the area around the house at the end of the 19th century, John Lefferts estate offered to donate it to the City on the condition that house be moved to City owned property for historic preservation and protection. It was opened as a museum in 1920 by the Fort Green Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (Wiki).

The house is currently used as a Children’s Museum and Cultural site and open year round.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden                        990 Washington Avenue                  Brooklyn, NY 11225

Brooklyn Botanical Garden 990 Washington Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11225

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

990 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

(718) 623-7210

http://www.bbg.org

Open:

Hours: Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Friday  8:00am-6:00pm

Admission: Depending on the time of year/please check the website

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d103900-Reviews-Brooklyn_Botanic_Garden-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

I have been a member of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden since 2002 and have never been bored on a trip to the gardens. In every season there is something new to see.

In the beginning of the Spring, Daffodil Hill is in full bloom and is a very impressive site. Hundreds of trumpet Daffodils line the hill of this side of the gardens surrounding the old oak trees. There are fields of yellow on yellow and yellow on orange flowers surrounding the paths against the backdrop of the green lawns.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden IV.jpg

Daffodil Hill

Magnolia Plaza where all the old flowering Magnolia trees bloom in full force in the Spring. The bright white and pink flowers are quite brilliant in colors and the sweet smell of the trees is wonderful. When it comes to the end of the season, you will be walking into a snow shower of colorful petals practically ‘snowing’ on you.

The next beautiful display is the Cherry Blossoms’ that bloom at the end of April. It is ablaze in all sorts of shades of pink and white. It brings the whole city out to see Mother Nature’s display of art. The big Japanese festival happens during this time and the park is full of all sorts of artists, dancers and musicians who have come to perform for the many members entering the park.

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The Cherry Tree Esplanade

In June, The Rose Garden festival takes place with hundreds of types of roses blooming in the same time period. This is when the members Rose Night happens with an evening of music, cocktails and looking over the flowering bushes all over the gardens. They even create a Rose Petal cocktail for the event that is interesting.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden Rose Night

Rose Garden Rose Night

Becoming a member of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden has its advantages too. In August, in the height of the summer they have the member’s movie night where members from all over the area sit in the Cherry Blossom field to watch an outdoor movie. I have seen family films “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, “The Goonies”, “Moonstruck” and “The Fabulous Mr. Fox” (which was not too fabulous of a film). It is a nice evening of relaxing on the cool grass, eating a light picnic dinner and sitting under the stars watching a film. Could there be any other New York moment to enjoy?

The Fall months bring the changing of the leaves on the trees and all the late flowers that come out in September and October. During the holiday season there is not much to see in the park, especially during the winter months outside but there is a tropical display under glass in the enclosed buildings on the property and the Bonsai Garden display of plants also in the glassed in enclosure. There are lots of  walking tours of the new water gardens, rock gardens and of the Japanese Gardens.

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The Japanese Gardens at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden

The complexity of the gardens show their true beauty from season to season when flowers and trees come into bloom and show their true beauty.

History of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden:

Early plans for Prospect Park called for the park to straddle Flatbush Avenue. The City of Brooklyn purchased the land for this purpose in 1864. When Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux brought their final plans to the city for approval in the 1860’s, they had eliminated the problematic decision along Flatbush. The northeast portion went unused, serving as an ash dump (WIKI).

Legislation in 1897 as the city moved toward consolidation reserved 39 acres for a botanical garden and the garden itself was founded in 1910. The garden was initially know as the Institute Park. It was run under the auspices of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, which included (until the 1970’s) the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Children’s Museum and Brooklyn Academy of Music. It opened as the Brooklyn Botanical Garden on May 13, 1911 with the Native Flora Garden being the first established section (WIKI).

Harold Caparn was appointed as the landscape architect in 1912.  Caparn designed most of the rest of the grounds over the next three decades, including the Osborne Gardens, Cranford Rose Garden, Magnolia Plaza and the Plant Collection. Construction of the Laboratory Building and Conservatory began in 1912 and the building was dedicated in 1917. The building-now simply the Administration Building-was designed in the Tuscan  Revival style by William Kendal for McKim, Mead & White, the architectural firm that built the Brooklyn Museum, Manhattan Municipal Building and many other prominent New York City buildings. It was designated a New York City Landmark in 2007 (WIKI).

The Specialty Gardens & Collections include:

The Cherry Trees

Japanese Hill-Pond Collection

Cranford Rose Garden

Native Flora Garden

Alice Recknagel Ireys Fragrance Garden

Children’s Garden

Water Garden

Other Gardens:

Plant Family Collection

Steinhardt Conservatory

 

Fight For Sunlight!

Text Sunlight to 484848 to help protect Brooklyn’s Garden from new buildings that would block vital sunlight to our plants.

bbg.org/sunlight

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Fight for Sunlight!

 

Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s Fight for Sunlight!

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s plant collections are under serious threat from a proposed massive building development including two 39 story towers at 960 Franklin Avenue (the spice factory site) just 150 ft from the Garden.

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The buildings for the ‘Fight for the Sunlight’ proposal

Towers of this size would block hours of sunlight to the  Garden’s 23 conservatories, greenhouses and nurseries. These facilities grow plants for the entire 52 acre Garden and serve as a hub for community and educational programs.

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‘Fight for the Sunlight’  sign in the gardens

Current zoning protects the Garden’s access to sunlight by capping building height at this location. These laws must remain in place to prevent irreparable damage to the Garden. Join us in signing a petition to City officials to protect the integrity and beauty of Brooklyn’s Garden.

Three ways to take Action!

Enroll in mobile updates by texting SUNLIGHT to 484848. We’ll text you new ways to get involved and important upcoming campaigns dates.

Sign the Garden’s petition at bbg.org/sunlight urging elected officials to protect the irreplaceable assets of Brooklyn Botanic Garden and oppose high-rise construction at this location. While you’re there, opt in to receive campaign updates so you can make sure your voice is heard on this issue.

Check out our Fight for Sunlight exhibit in the Conservatory to learn more about this project and why it has to be stopped. Share your support on social media using #FightFor Sunlight to tag your photos taken at the Garden.

bbg.org/sunlight

 

Disclaimer: Please call the Brooklyn Botanical Garden for more information on the gardens.